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Constitution change recognises Indigenous Victorians

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 5 November 2004

In an Australian first, Victoria's Indigenous community has been acknowledged as the original custodians of the state's land in a constitutional amendment bill passed by Parliament.

Victorian Aboriginal Affairs Minister Gavin Jennings says both sides of politics supported the change, which recognises that Victoria was set up and its constitution passed without involving the Aboriginal people.

Mr Jennings says the largely symbolic legislation does not confer any legal rights but comes after the Government committed nearly $32 million over four years in this year's Budget to address Indigenous issues.

Mr Jennings says the amendments may mean there is more respect for the state's laws from Indigenous communities.

"We think it'll mean that there's a greater respect and regard for Victorian laws emanating from Aboriginal communities as they actually finally believe that they are a part of a parliamentary democracy that many people in the Aboriginal community feel pretty alienated from," he said.

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